Chapstick isn’t just for protecting your lips. You can also use this popular lip balm for minor medical treatment and protection; for repairing and waterproofing; for fire starting and storage. If you have the choice, don’t use Chapstick or another lip balm to replace a better-suited or more effective treatment product. However, it never hurts to be prepared. Read on to learn how to use lip balm as a survival tool!
Healing and Protection
1Look for lip balm with healing properties. Lip balm that contains petrolatum is good for locking in moisture, and balm with dimethicone is useful for sealing up dry, cracked lips. Many balm products also include emollients, which help moisturize the skin, provide a protective film, and make dry, itchy skin feel more comfortable.
2Treat minor skin abrasions. This might include cuts and scrapes, bug bites, and rashes. First, use a clean tissue, cloth, or leaf to clean away any blood or dirt. Then, apply Chapstick thickly to the area. Be sure to thoroughly coat the wound with balm. Then, cover the skin with a clean cloth or leaf.
- In a pinch, Chapstick can stop small cuts from bleeding. The waxy substance blocks off the wound and keeps the blood flowing inside your body.
- As a wound or rash heals, Chapstick will protect the tender area from dirt and bacteria. This may reduce your risk of infection, especially if you are in an unclean or unfamiliar environment.
Rub onto dry, chapped lips. Be sure to use Chapstick liberally and often when you’re in constant exposure to the elements. If your lips take too much heat, cold, or wind, they might dry out, crack open, and even bleed.
4Use Chapstick as a mild anesthetic. Smear lip balm on blisters, foot rot, and other painful (but not life-threatening) maladies. The protective qualities of the balm may have a tingling, mildly-pain-relieving effect on your skin. Do not expect Chapstick to ease any serious pain, and do not treat it as a substitute for real medical attention.
- If you have a toothache, try applying lip balm to the gums or to the outer skin of your cheek. This method is not officially recommended, but some survivalists claim that it can ease the pain a bit.
5Protect your face from the scorching sun. Apply to a clean, dry face. Use Chapstick like sunscreen. The waxy coating should put a thin, protective layer between your skin and the sun – but it won’t last nearly as long as official sunscreen. Be careful to keep it out of your eyes!
- Some lip balm actually comes with an SPF rating. Choose one of these products, and it may actually give your skin some serious sun protection.
- Chapstick may also help temporarily protect your face from wind-chill and frostbite. Apply to your face in cold, windy situations. Do not expect it to protect you from serious cold.
6Make a mask. To reduce glare in bright environments like snow and deserts, try dipping the Chapstick in ash and rubbing it in lines beneath your eyes. Layer the ash-balm combination all over your face to darken your skin and make a simple, camouflaging hunting mask. It functions much like mud, and it is somewhat water-resistant.
Starting a Fire
1Use Chapstick as a “fire extender”. Uncap the container and rub the lip balm onto something flammable: cotton balls, Q-tips, cloth, gauze, lint, or even dry organic materials like leaves and bark. Then, light the material on fire. The oil in the lip balm will give your flame an extra kick of intensity, and it should help it burn for longer while you get a larger fire going.
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2Make a candle. Add a short wick, and the waxy, oily lip balm will perform much like a standard candle. For the wick, you can use a string, a match, or half of a Q-tip – anything that will not burn too quickly. Coat the wick in Chapstick wax, then stick it into the end of the balm. Light it on fire, and you have a candle that you can use to make more fire.
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- Make sure to plant the wick slightly off-center from the plastic screw in the center of the Chapstick.
- Keep the wick very short. Otherwise, it might burn too quickly. Either way, there’s a good chance that the fire will melt away the plastic rim of the container.
3Make a Q-tip candle. Try cutting a Q-tip in half, then coating the fuzzy end of the Q-tip in lip balm. Stick the sharp end of the half-Q-tip into the Chapstick, then light the fuzz. It should burn well and last at least a few minutes.
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Repairing and Protecting Gear
1Waterproof your shoes or gear. Smear the lip balm over a thin or non-watertight section of fabric for a quick fix. This will only be marginally and temporarily effective, but it might keep you just dry enough in a pinch. Make sure that your gear is dry and clean when you start – otherwise, the Chapstick won’t be able to do much!
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2Use as a lubricant. There are a lot of zippers involved in survival gear—tents, jackets, backpacks—and these closing mechanisms are prone to getting caught on the surrounding fabric. Chapstick can act as a lubricant that might help you free the zipper from a tight spot. Use lip balm liberally, but don’t expect it to fix all of your zipper woes.
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- As an added bonus, the waxy coating might make the zipper more water-resistant.
- You can also use Chapstick to lubricate screws, tools, and other things that might get stuck.
3Keep knives from rusting. Coat the blade with Chapstick by rubbing the balm directly on. This can be helpful if you’re using your knife in the rain. Make sure to wipe the blade clean once you’re in a dry haven.
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4Defog glasses. Rub Chapstick onto the lenses of your glasses, then rub them dry. This should get the glass clean, and it may also keep them from fogging up. Be aware that this tip is not officially verified; it shouldn’t damage your glasses, but the thick petroleum might gunk up the lenses and make it hard to see. Try it, if you’re curious, but do so with a grain of salt.
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5Use the empty container as storage. Once you’ve used all of your Chapstick, you can use the plastic tube to store thick products like toothpaste, soap, wax, and petroleum jelly. Make sure to rinse out the compartment beforehand to remove the waxy residue. If the lid is intact, try using the container to hold basic survival gear: a fishing hook, a waterproof match, a band-aid, and some fishing line.
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- Try hiding cash in here if you’re traveling. Fold paper bills and roll them in. This can be a discreet way to keep your money close and safe.
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- Make a fishing lure. Break off a small chunk of lip balm and attach it to your fishing hook. This may simulate a salmon egg, a grub, or another basic bait. You probably won’t be able to re-use the chunk – but it might help you catch a fish, in a pinch.
- Consider carrying a small tub of Vaseline. This performs many of the same functions as Chapstick, and it may be easier to scoop and apply in volume.
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